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iPhone iOS 11.3 software update: what to expect and will it address performance problems?

iphone 6 battery charging

The next version of Apple's iPhone software, AKA iOS 11.3, is coming soon.

It promises to bring some very welcome changes, principally aimed at addressing the company's controversial policy of slowing down older phones, which prompted Apple to offer cut-price, £25 replacement batteries to millions of people affected.

Among the changes the software will usher in is a feature that will let you turn off performance slowdowns, as well as more closely monitor the life of your battery and the apps and services that are draining it.

But that's not all. We can look also forward to enhanced versions of Apple Music and Apple News.

And if you've got an iPhone X, you're in line for some new animated emoji (or Emoji to use the branded term), too. As well as much more immersive Augmented Reality (AR) apps.

Here's everything you need to know about iOS 11.3.

Haven't taken advantage of Apple's battery replacement scheme yet? Here's how it works.

Battery health indicators included

iOS update hero image

Apple Tim CEO Cook told ABC News in the US that the update to iOS 11 would offer special indicators to show users just how healthy their battery is.

“We’re going to give people the visibility of the health of their battery so it’s very, very transparent. This hasn’t been done before,” he said.

He wasn't lying. Trial versions of iOS 11.3 confirm that this will be available within the Settings app, where you'll find details on how old the battery is, how it handles specific tasks and why it is being slowed down in certain situations.

This feature is reserved for iPhone 6 or later.

The option to switch off performance slow-downs

iPhone X gmail update hero

Following the iPhone battery controversy, Apple will now allow owners of older iPhones to turn off performance slowdowns in iOS.

However, when addressing journalists Cook warned that doing so could cause random shutdowns, with older devices unable to handle the more complex tasks used in newer software.

But it should mean your iPhone still runs at a decent speed.

Once again, you'll find this feature in Settings, under Battery. It'll be available for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

But no end to the policy of slowing down old phones

Despite Apple's moves to be more transparent about older phones' performance issues, it's vital to note that updates to iOS 11 will continue to hamper the performance of the iPhone 6, 6s, 7 and 7 Plus.

That remains a bone of contention for many, who say that Apple is doing so in order to force them to upgrade, a charge Apple denies vehemently.

More music video features in Apple Music

Apple Music hero

Apple's music streaming service already offers thousands of videos. But they're not easy to find and user functionality is limited.

That's about to change. According to Apple, the version of Apple Music included with iOS 11.3 will foreground videos and allow users to stream an unlimited amount of pop promos advert-free.

Just as importantly, there'll be music video playlists to help you discover new tunes and videos.

Apple News is being improved

apple news

The news cycle seems spin a little bit faster every day. To help you stay in the loop, iOS 11.3'S edition of Apple News will add a "new Video group in For You" and "improved Top Stories'.

Both of which are intended to foreground the day's most interesting and earth-shattering stories.

Better AR apps

iOS 11.3 AR

We won't get too technical here, but iOS 11.3 should give games and app developers the tools they need to make their AR experiences more immersive and altogether more convincing.

How so? Well, until now iPhone AR apps have only been able to recognise horizontal surfaces, such as tables and chairs. But from March, they'll also be able to identfiy vertical surfaces (think: walls and doors) and place objects on them.

Impressively, Apple's fresh take on AR will also be able to "find and recognise the position of 2D images such as signs, posters, and artwork" and "integrate these real world images into AR experiences such as filling a museum with interactive exhibits or bringing a movie poster to life".

And it seems the quality of the images will be improved as well, with the resolution of the camera being upgraded by 50%.

More Animoji

Lion animoji

Animated emoji were one of the key selling points of the iPhone X. Even if they were dismissed by some as little more than a novelty.

But if you're a fan, the good news is that iOS 11.3 will add four more, namely: a lion, dragon, skull and bear.

It's worth noting that although iOS 11.3 is coming to older iPhones, Animoji will remain exclusive to the iPhone X.

Expect iOS 11.3 in March

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The trial version of iOS 11.3 is available to download now. But be mindful that because it's a work in progress, it may not work as smoothly as you'd like. And might be prone to the odd glitch or two.

The finished edition of the software is likely to land in March. So that's not too long to wait to get your hands on it.

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